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Travel Photography Subjects: Transportation

taxi-marrakech This post is number ten of twenty one subjects that will help you focus when on your next journey and you wish to bring back a well rounded story of where you were.  If you’re just going on vacation and only want pictures of yourself by the pool sipping boat drinks, then you can probably skip this one.  These posts are not intent on telling you everything you need to do, step by step, to capture perfect, cookie-cutter pictures while traveling.  Instead, they are intent on pointing out some vital elements to capture when on the road and ask thought provoking questions you may want to ask yourself.  My hope is they help guide you to find your own means to better expressing what your travels have meant to you and present that in the best light possible.

Getting from here to there. Transportation.  This Travel Photography Subject is easy because you will be directly involved, one way or the other, as you travel.   From the planes that take you over vast oceans, to the trains, taxis, rickshaws, tuk-tuks, motorcycles, chicken buses, long boats, barges…..I think you get the picture.  Transportation is the backbones of travel, and unless you’re hoofing it on foot, you’ll be using some form of transportation from the moment you leave your house.

The trick is to get creative with your photos of transportation.  While standard, representation shots of the side of the bus you rode from Nairobi to Arusha will do, what’s another way to tell the story?  Do you have shots of what it’s like inside, packed three to a seat? What about luggage storage or the exhaust billowing out the tailpipe?  And along the way, do you make any stops and what’s the activity around the bus like?  The driver and the money handler, what’s their part in the travels?

Take a look at not only the aesthetics of your mode of transportation, but also how it fits in with the overall culture.  In some places taxis are everywhere and run by highly organized groups.  Driver’s tend to know each other and may be more cooperative.  In others locations it’s far more adversarial.  You’ll get a flavor for the culture pretty quickly.  Try to incorporate that into your representation of the mode you choose.

Some people also find a certain fascination with one particular mode, especially when it’s something new.  If this is you, run with it!  Maybe it’s rickshaws in Asia.  For instance, you could collect shots of all the different decorations and colorings.  Or document the different drivers you see.  If your travels are centered in one country, maybe decsribe how the rickshaws change from town to town or region to region (if they do at all).  Expanding out from there, how do the rickshaws in Vietnam compare to those in Nepal?  Or Africa?

Also take a look at not just human transport, but the transportation of goods.  In some areas, half the wheels on the ground are carrying commerce from here to there.  Carts full of vegetables, fruit or TVs.  Lories packed beyond capacity with cotton from the fields.  Mules, oxen, yaks and horses packing rice, crates and climbers expedition gear to the Himalayas.  It’s all fodder for the overall category of transportation.

What have been your experiences shooting Transportation during your travels? Post a photo or link in the section below and include a bit of background information.


Previous articles in the Travel Photography Subjects series include Water, Old People, Young People, Religion, Sports, Socializing, Icons, Rich and Poor.  Be sure to subscribe to this site to receive the other 15 subjects as they are posted!

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Peter West Carey
Peter West Carey

leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and beyond. He is also the creator of Photography Basics – A 43 Day Adventure & 40 Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

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